Only 10 per cent of unclaimed property that is currently being controlled by government is productive, generating over Rfw2.4 billion over the years, the Minister for Justice has said yesterday.
Johnston Busingye was speaking at a meeting which brought together district committees in charge of abandoned property. Busingye said that unclaimed property stems from many issues, including the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Such property included land, domestic and commercial houses, factories, farms and others.
He said that the property totals 1,166, including 353 houses, 47 pieces of land, 674 crop farms, 10 animal farms, 77 forests, one petrol station and four factories.
Busingye reminded those in attendance that the law permits the Minister for Justice to use their authority to pass the property to one of those legible to inherit it or the legal caretaker but the decision must be approved by the advisory committee on the village level.
“This must continue to be done so that all the property left behind goes to the rightful owners, their relatives or to those that can put them to better use because the government cannot continue be their caretakers,” he said.
The Head of Access to Justice Department at the Ministry of Justice, Martine Urujeni, said that the Rfw2.4bn collected from such property is kept on different accounts run by district committees.
“There is one fixed account where money is kept for the owners of the property and another account which is used to save money that is used in running these properties. When the owners show up, they are promptly given back their property and the money that it accumulated over the years,” she said.
Urujeni pointed out that there are many properties that are making money and have all the necessities that make them legible to pay taxes but they still aren’t. This was observed especially in Kigali city.
“We appeal to the committees in charge to do a survey of all property so that those that can pay taxes do so,” she said.
Urujeni said that there is also an issue of some houses still being rented out cheaply and appealed to the committees to review the rental contracts, update them and harmonise them with the market prices.